On September 16, 1969, twenty-three year old, former UCLA student body president, Rosalio Muñoz accused the United States government “of genocide against the Mexican people.” Muñoz added, “specifically, I accuse the draft, the entire social, political, and economic system of creating a funnel which shoots Mexican youth into Viet Nam to be killed and to kill innocent men, women, and children.”
While most tend to remember September 16 as Mexican Independence Day with fiestas and parades, during the Chicano Movement, activists used this date strategically in their overall efforts to resist American imperialism.
With Chicano cultural nationalism at its peak, Mexican Independence Day was re-energized as a day of self-determination and resistance by Chicano Movement activists intent on realizing Aztlán. Only four years earlier on September 16, 1965, the United Farm Workers (UFW) joined the Filipino farm workers to declare a general nationwide boycott of grape growers. The Grape Boycott elevated César Chávez and the UFW to the forefront of the Chicano Movement, especially in California.
It was not only a symbolic act, but an affirmation of the history of Chicana/o-Mexicana/o activism that Rosalio Muñoz would choose September 16th to charge the American government with genocide while announcing his intention to boycott the Selective Service System.
Rosalio not only accused the American government of racism in its foreign policy affairs, but he also denounced police brutality in the local communities, “I accuse the law enforcement agencies of the United States of instilling greater fear and insecurity in Mexican youth than the Viet Cong ever could.”
Towards the end of 1969, the Brown Berets formed the Chicano Moratorium to protest the Viet Nam War. Rosalio Muñoz was named co-chairman along with Brown Beret Prime Minister David Sánchez.
Rosalio Muñoz’s day of resistance might be a blur in traditional American history, but his act of resistance is vividly remembered in Chicana/o history. Rosalio’s denouncement of both American imperialism abroad and at home still resonates today as the American government continues to be engaged in numerous wars and with police brutality completely out of control in the barrios.